SEOUL 5 July 2017: North Korea claims to have successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which flew a trajectory that an expert said could allow a weapon to hit the U.S. state of Alaska.
According to Reuters, the launch comes just days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations are due to discuss steps to rein in Pyongyang’s weapons programmes, which the North has pursued in defiance of UN Security Council and unilateral US and South Korean sanctions, said Wam.
The launch, which North Korea’s state media said was ordered and supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, sent the rocket 933 km with a flight time of 39 minutes, reaching an altitude of 2,802 km.
Earlier on Tuesday, officials from South Korea, Japan and the United States said the missile had landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone after being launched near an airfield in Panghyon, about 100 km northwest of the North’s capital, Pyongyang.
“The test launch was conducted at the sharpest angle possible and did not have any negative effect on neighbouring countries,” North Korea’s state media said in a statement.
The North also said its missile capability could now strike anywhere in the world.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who convened a national security council meeting, said the missile was believed to be an intermediate range type, but the military was also looking at the possibility it was an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Reuters reports that North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped ICBM capable of hitting the United States, ignoring repeated warnings from the international community.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier that he will ask the presidents of China and Russia to play more constructive roles in efforts to stop the Pyongyang’s arms programme.
Meanwhile, stock markets in both South Korea and Japan fell after the missile launch, with the Kospi ending down 0.6 percent and Japan’s Nikkei share average ending down 0.1 percent.
Japan said on Monday that the United States, South Korea and Japan will have a trilateral summit on North Korea at the G20 meeting. China’s leader Xi Jinping will also be at the July 7th and 8th meeting being hosted in Hamburg, Germany.
North Korea has conducted four missile tests since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in May, vowing to use dialogue as well as pressure to bring Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes under control.
White House officials said that President Trump had been briefed on the latest launch, which took place hours before Independence Day celebrations in the United States began. North Korea has previously fired missiles around this holiday.
Reuters also said that Pyongyang has conducted missile-related activities at an unprecedented pace since the start of last year. Analysts say it is years away from having a nuclear-tipped ICBM, but Pyongyang is also trying to develop intermediate-range missiles capable of hitting U.S. bases in the Pacific. The last North Korean launches before Tuesday were of land-to-sea cruise missiles on June 8th.
By Angel Chan